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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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7/18/2012 10:00:00 PM
Whiskey Row Fire Fundraiser raises $86,000
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily CourierFrom left, Marco Espitia, co-owner of Matt’s Saloon, Dave Michelson, owner of the Palace Saloon, and Matt Brassard, co-owner of Matt’s Saloon, present John and Debbie Stamm, owners of the Bird Cage Saloon, Kishore Patel, owner of the Prescott Food Store, and Mike Paper, owner of Pearl’s Place Café, with an oversized check for $86,000 from the Whiskey Row Fire Fundraiser that took place this past May.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
From left, Marco Espitia, co-owner of Matt’s Saloon, Dave Michelson, owner of the Palace Saloon, and Matt Brassard, co-owner of Matt’s Saloon, present John and Debbie Stamm, owners of the Bird Cage Saloon, Kishore Patel, owner of the Prescott Food Store, and Mike Paper, owner of Pearl’s Place Café, with an oversized check for $86,000 from the Whiskey Row Fire Fundraiser that took place this past May.
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Backed by a wall of inscriptions lamenting the passing of three vital downtown businesses, organizers of the May Whiskey Row Fire Fundraiser closed the book on the benefit this week by turning over a giant check for $86,000.

Even though the money had been split three ways and distributed to the three businesses more than a month ago, organizers took the opportunity Wednesday afternoon to announce details of the wildly successful May 20 fundraiser.

The ceremonial check-passing took place in front of the boarded-up storefronts, which have become a memorial of sorts to the three businesses that once stood in the center of the famed Whiskey Row.

"RIP, come back soon," stated one of the scribbles on the wall. "Miss you like crazy," said another.

Those sentiments were typical of what the business owners and benefit organizers have heard ever since the May 8 fire that ravaged the Bird Cage Saloon, Pearl's Place Café, and the Prescott Food Store.

Dave Michelson, owner of the Palace Restaurant and Saloon and one of the organizers of the benefit, noted that community response had far exceeded the expectations that he and fellow organizers Matt Brassard and Marco Espitia, co-owners of Matt's Saloon, had when they undertook the whirlwind planning for the fundraiser.

The original goal was to raise about $40,000, Michelson said. Through the major contributions of businesses and individuals, as well as admission revenues, liquor sales and a silent auction, the benefit had more than doubled that.

"There are no words to thank them," John Stamm, owner of the Bird Cage, said Wednesday of the people who contributed.

His wife, Debi Stamm, added: "This was an event that took us to our knees. When you're down so low and see the people of Prescott lift you up, there is no other way to go but up. We sure love the heck out of this town."

Wednesday's news conference was also a chance for the owners to talk about their plans for the future. And by all indications, plans for all three of the owners are still in the early development stages.

"It's premature on making that kind of statement," Stamm said in response to questions about when and where the Bird Cage Saloon might reappear. "It's a slow-moving process."

Mike Paper, the owner of Pearl's Place Café, said his plans also are still in flux. "I'm still kind of in shock," Paper said. "I'm used to going to work every day. This has been an adjustment period."

Paper said he is looking at a number of options. Although reopening Pearl's Place is among the options, Paper said he also is considering other possibilities, such as catering.

"The building on Whiskey Row is going to take quite a while," Paper said.

Kishore Patel, owner of the Prescott Food Store, said he also continues to look at his options. "We're still looking at space, a good location," Patel said, noting that the store likely would reopen at a new site.

The money that the fundraiser generated will go toward a variety of uses.

The Stamms said they are saving the bulk of their benefit money for the renovation of the Bird Cage.

Paper said his share of the benefit proceeds has been helpful in helping to pay off debt from the restaurant.

Owners also said that they have given a portion of the proceeds to their employees. Other benefits, including one at Donna's Hut and another at the Plaza Bowl bowling alley, also have helped the employees.

In all, the fire affected about 10 employees - six at the Bird Cage, and two each at Pearl's Place and the Prescott Food Store. Most have found other jobs, the owners said.

With the fire now about two months in the past, plans apparently are in the works to take down some of the walls of the gutted buildings.

Randy Pluimer, chief building official for the City of Prescott, reported Wednesday that the city had issued a demolition permit on Tuesday for the three Whiskey Row buildings. "The front and back walls will come down," Pluimer said, explaining that an earlier plan to save the front façades of the buildings likely would not happen because of water damage.

While the right-of-way permits for the demolition work have yet to be issued, Pluimer said he expects the work to get under way within about two weeks, and take a total of about five days to complete.

Despite the two months that have elapsed since the fire, contributions continue to come in in the form of benefit T-shirt sales at the Stamms' temporary location at 160 S. Montezuma St., as well as fire/benefit video sales at Matt's Saloon. In addition, Michelson said the benefit bank account is still open at Country Bank.



Related Stories:
• Editorial: Fundraiser fueled by local goodwill


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012
Article comment by: donnie baker

I have never been into the store or the cafe. But have frequented The Cage many a nights over the past 2 decades. Have you all ever ordered a drink from there?
a draft beer 3.50 to 4.50, in which they probably pay .50 average for it themselves which is a very nice profit, and the place was always packed. The Cage, along with all the other bars in the entire city with the exception of Bucky's and yavapai casino really heavily overcharge for their drinks, and trust me with the money they are making on that overcharge, they have more than enough to take care of themselves,let alone the insurance they should have had. and if they didn't save their own dime after charging their patrons those prices well then its nobody's fault but their own! Yes i contributed to the Cage fundraiser the last 20 yrs by paying for the over charges. So i have done my part already ...Thank you!


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: 'Come on People' needs to go to anger managment school.

A lot of us think this ... party / fund raiser celebrating a local fire is disturbing and disingenuous, and that this large sum of money could have been much better directed. I have no way of knowing if all three businesses were properly insured. If they were they do not need the gift. If not, they don't deserve it. You, and most of the commenters (is that the right word?) on this site, all too often let raw emotion and anger rule your comments. Not rational, thoughtful, objective thinking. And as in your case such shallow thinking results in ignorant screeds. Whiskey Row is 'charming'. Not liking the history of Prescott is in human (sic). If we don't think giving money to some business but not others is a good idea we should collectively move to Iran. Which I might add would probably be safer than opening a business right now in downtown Prescott. Looks like none or maybe one will reopen in place. ...

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: A Proud Non-Contributor

People can contribute all they want to help support for-profit businesses. It's their choice. I'm proud to say I didn't contribute.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Citizen Erwin

I hope these business owners pay it forward in some way. What about the family that has a fire at their home and everything is lost. Are you now going to have a fundraiser for them? It must be nice to receive money to pay off your business debt. I hope this is properly reported to the IRS. I hope in the future people choose a better way to donate money to a more worthwhile cause that is truly charitable and trying to make a difference. It would be nice for these business owners who benefited to turn around and donate that money to a better cause instead of their own personal pockets. I'm proud to say this citizen didn't donate money to a bar and a useless cause.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: they donated---

to a BAR! The library had to close one of their locations and cut way back on hours of operation and Sharlot Hall is swirling down the tubes, but all the (bar patrons) in town contributed to re-open a bar which already had insurance to cover their losses! I can read in the posts below, (they) get real defensive about donating to re-open a bar. Don't criticize those who think this money should have gone to those in need, just hang your head in shame as you shuffle off to the bar.


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Come on People

@ It's Great and every other sour puss out there. Helping others in need is part of the American way and that's what makes this town so great. Like Whiskey Row or not but the downtown is what gives Prescott its charm and rich history. Not liking the history of Prescott or America for that matter is just simply in human. If it's so terrible, move, I'd suggest Iran. You want to help the food shelter or the homeless, get off your computer, raise money, go door to door collecting food, volunteer or start a mission to reach out to the homeless or whatever it is you believe in. Do something but don't sit and spew your disgust about what others wanted to give their money to. Maybe you and the others could take the risk and open a new business downtown and build your new utopian future but I'm sure you're just sitting around waiting for your next handout.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: We Miss Pearl's Place

My wife & I miss Pearl's Place. Here's hoping that they decide to reopen.

It's nice to see our community helping out some of its small business owners who have been the victims of misfortune! Thank you Prescott!!


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Dear 'It's great' commenter.

This kind of local foolishness and repeated blind gullibility is the reason we are laughed at, not only by more cultured and civilized areas of Arizona, but by the rest of the country. Guns, murals, burned out bars and BBQs, Arpaio, Gov. Brewer, Pearce etc. etc. etc..... the list is endless. This is just a new twist on and old failing...

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: People sure love telling others how to spend their money

Does all giving now have to meet someone's standards for prioritization?

If somebody gives to a food bank, will they be berated for not supporting the homeless?

Here's an idea - do what you think is right and don't worry about it when other people have different priorities.


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: @ It's Great

You are absolutely correct, hence the venom being spewed by the bar flies and the bar owners who live off them. Perfect symbiosis for a backward western town that can't get over its past and has no plan for a vital future. Thank you for pointing out the elephant in Prescott's living room. This entire fundraiser was pathetic pandering from the get-go and it’s yet another example of why we are laughed at by most of Arizona. Fundraisers should be held for nonprofit organizations, not for business owners with insurance policies.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Bottom line.

Only in provincial, frontier mentality, stuck-in-the-past Prescott could this have happened. It's 2012! I, and you, can certainly think of dozens of charities and causes in Prescott town more deserving of $86,000 than an unremarkable cafe, a food store and a local bar that happened to burn down. All of which should have had both commercial and business interruption insurance policies in force. Overreaction in spades!!! And an ego trip and photo-op for the organizers.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: PRESCOTT NATIVE ALL THE WAY

OMG, here we go, raising money for a home town establishment has nothing to do with the Food Bank. There are alot of fundraisers for
the Food Bank, My company alone contributes all year long. Keep your rude comments to yourself.


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Earn Their Keep

To It's Great: I suggest that the homeless on the courthouse square be given some work to do helping with the demolition rather than just waiting around for a handout.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Road to Recovery

I'm glad the three businesses can finally re-coup a little ready cash to start their recovery. To "It's Great": If you re-read CAREFULLY, you will find that there were 3 (THREE) businesses who were beneficiaries of the fundraising, who hopefully can, in turn benefit at least another dozen former and potential employees. You can't seem to let go of the fact that one happens to be a bar. I'm sure you will feel much better if you make a sizeable contribution to the food bank of your choice, since it is bothering you so much.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: w Lebowski

@ its great
It isn't your neighbors who empty the food bank shelves, its the habitual moochers


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Yes, but

weren't these businesses covered by insurance to cover their losses? I don't get why this became such a movement to generate dollars for the three businesses damaged by the fire when most of other business or residential fires go unnoticed after the main event. So each of these people get over 28K. I can envision at least one new Harley parked at the curb in the future.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: It's Great there is a difference between crisis and chronic

And folks are pretty tired of the latter.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: altruist in town

Hey ITS GREAT...YOU are insensitive. These people have lost their livelihoods. Why don't YOU organize a fundraiser for the food bank instead of sitting in your armchair scoffing at others.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: leon deneui

its heart warming to see a community pull together to help out local businesses devastated by a tragety such as this fire., but, I have yet to hear or read about insurance coverage or estimates of renovations.

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: You're Right

Gotta' keep the money rolling in to keep the alcohol flowing to keep the money rollin' in..................

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: D L

Its great how a community can come together and do great things and support the history of Prescott. For the poster "its great" how about instead of being negative, just realize that "yes this just happened", and deal with it. This is a good article and of course negative nancy has to say something. If you care so much then donate more than 5 canned food items a year. Food banks theoretically are food banks. So give them food. Most money that goes to food banks go to employees. Great article!

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: It's Great

It's great we can raise $86,000 for a bar however, our food bank shelves are bare. Such a shame we can't feed our neighbors in need.




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